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Full text of "NightRider"


said that he had never said much at his trial, had just sat
there. And afterward in the jail, till they hanged him.
Mr. Munn tried hard to remember his name. He would lie
there, staring at the dazzling depth of the sky, and try to
remember the name. It became almost an obsession with
him. That man had been bora in such a cabin as they found
him in that night, dropped unbreathing and foul on to a
pallet on the floor, or into a bed that creaked and sagged,
with the light coming in at a patched window-pane, grey or
bright, or with the light of such a lamp as lighted the cabin
the night they took him. He had sucked milk from a breast,
and had crawled in the dust before the cabin with the cabin
and trees and the fields enormous around him. He had put
food into his mouth, and had eaten it, day after day growing
stronger. He had worked in the fields, and talked and laughed
at night, and lain in the bed there with the woman whose
eyes had followed them with that animal questioning about
the cabin that night. They had knocked on the door, late at
night, and had come in and found the knife, and had taken
him away. Mr. Munn tried, day after day, to remember his
name. He could see his face, the way it had looked in the
lamplight, the gray lips protesting, saying, "If'n I knowed
that knife was yore'n, I shore would a-brung hit back. I'd

a-found whar yore place wuz, and brung hit back, and-----"

But he could not remember the name.

Day after day he was idle. He lay by the spring, drowsing,
sometimes for hours, for at night he slept badly. At night,
after lying for a long time in his bed, watching the square
of the window of the little lean-to room, he would sit up, as
though to leap out and perform some errand of overmaster-
ing magnitude. Once, even, he got up and put on his over-
alls and shoes, and went outdoors. The moon was very low,
just at the wooded western rim of the little valley. The
contours of objects now familiar to him—the trees, the barn,
the fences, the bluffside—lost definition and merged and
faltered aqueously in the shadows and in the uncertain
striations of mist and dim light. He walked rapidly until he